Labor Day 2020

I had decided not to write a ‘Labour Day’ post this year, for my heart simply wasn’t in it. Then I came across Brosephus’ post that pretty much summed up my own thoughts, only more eloquently than I likely could have done. Thank you Brosephus, for this thoughtful post. Let us hope that next year will be better for everyone.

The Mind of Brosephus

Just like the year 2020 has been so far, Labor Day isn’t a “happy” day either. While the real-life Fantasy Island host, Donald Trump, tries to paint a rosy picture,

Reality tells an entirely different story.

The truth about job growth is that the sitting president has very little to do with creating jobs outside of filling federal job vacancies. Job growth or loss is dictated by the private sector and the decisions made in corporate boardrooms across the world.

That said, there’s a cottage industry built upon the notion that a president is responsible for jobs in his term. In reality, decisions made during one term will determine the direction of the country years after those decisions are made. For example, the job growth in his term that Trump tries…

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Two Things To Ponder …

The United States, like every other Western government, has numerous laws to protect the people living in this country.  Or perhaps I should re-phrase that to say, “had numerous laws …”.  Rules and regulations … some grow outdated over time and need to be revised or scrapped, but most exist for a reason.

Take, for example, the rule that requires commercial truck drivers to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours of consecutive driving.  Makes sense, right?  You’ve probably taken driving trips and you know how tired your eyes get, how you rather zone out after staring at mile after mile of Interstate highway.  Well, that rule is gone now, as is the one that capped a trucker’s workday at 14 hours, with only 11 hours behind the wheel.  Suspended, because Trump wants truckers moving goods as fast as possible, and so what if a few million lives are put in danger by a trucker falling asleep at the wheel?  I will no longer drive on the Interstate highway, knowing that the big rig beside me may be driven by a zombie who has been on the road for 20 hours without sleep.

Yesterday in my snarky snippet post I wrote about Trump removing the requirement for environmental reviews on infrastructure projects such as oil and gas pipelines, highways and fossil fuel export terminals.  But those are not the only environmental regulations he has quietly trashed, using the coronavirus and the economy as his excuse.  Two weeks ago, he signed an executive order instructing agencies across the government to rescind, modify or simply stop enforcing regulations if they burden the economy.

The regulatory rollbacks covered in this executive order are supposed to be temporary, just a brief relief to help get the economy rolling again, but one White House source says that Trump intends to make them permanent.  He signs an executive order and then conveniently forgets about it, as do we, since we are bombarded on a daily basis with so many piss-poor decisions and actions on his part.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Until people start dying.

Under his executive order …

  • The federal consumer watchdog agency suspended requirements that financial institutions investigate disputed information on consumers’ credit reports.
  • The Labor Department relaxed some worker protections, including how businesses report paid sick leave.
  • The Food and Drug Administration cut the time it takes to approve new antimicrobial products from years to months.

And do you remember the financial crisis of 2007-2008?  It was caused by deregulation in the financial industry.  Now, the Federal Reserve has lowered the amount of capital a bank must hold … a key safeguard against a repeat of the Great Recession.  The rule change “will provide flexibility” so banks can “provide credit to households and businesses in light of the challenges arising from the coronavirus response.”  Until the banks over-extend themselves and come crying for another federal bailout, and working people lose most of their 401(k)s.

What’s next?  Will regulations on worker safety be disregarded, exposing factory workers to unsafe conditions?  Will food safety regulations be scaled back?  I just don’t know what else Trump has in mind, but I do know that he is concerned only with his re-election, and he sees a thriving economy as crucial to that effort.  For my part … I will not buy one damned thing I don’t absolutely need.  There is a right way and a wrong way to revive the economy … putting lives and the environment in danger is the wrong way.

I’m rapidly losing respect for most politicians, but there is one who I really like and admire … Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser!   In fact, I would love to give this woman a huge hug!

Muriel-BowserHer first run in with Donald Trump came in the summer of 2018 when Trump had decided to honour himself with a military parade, after attending the Bastille Day Parade in Paris the prior year.  It was a stupid idea to begin with, but … well, Trump is the master of stupid ideas.  Mayor Bowser informed him that the cost of local security and logistics would come to a whopping $21.6 million.  Trump, of course, threw one of his Twitter tantrums …

“The local politicians who run Washington, D.C. (poorly) know a windfall when they see it. When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it.”

Of course, the $21.6 million price tag was only a part of the estimated $92 million (of our money) for the entire show.  Mayor Bowser, unlike some politicians in Congress who I will not name, was not intimidated …

“Yup, I’m Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, the local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities ($21.6M) of parades/events/demonstrations in Trump America (sad).”

But this week, she has been put to the test by Trump’s imposition of martial law in D.C., and she passed the test with flying colours!  In a letter to Trump on Thursday, she said …Bowser-letter

And when asked about Trump’s little photo op stunt earlier this week, where peaceful protestors were attacked by officers using tear gas, flash grenades and other weapons just so that Trump could put on a show of walking to a church and holding up a bible, Mayor Bowser responded with calm …

“I can say this … I don’t think that the military should be used on the streets of American cities against Americans, and I definitely don’t think it should be done for a show.”

Isn’t it refreshing to hear a simple, calm statement … no facial contortions or hand gyrations, no yelling or ranting, just a statement, calm and intelligent.  Donald Trump and many others could and should take lessons from this woman!

But the coup de grâce came yesterday when Mayor Bowser renamed the street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road.blm-streetScore one … no wait, score two for Mayor Muriel Bowser!

Post Coronavirus, What’s the plan?

Once again, our friend Jeff is spot on in his assessment. Our ‘leaders’ are too busy attending to their own self-interest to have anything resembling a ‘plan’. Thanks Jeff!!!

On The Fence Voters

Hint: There isn’t one. Will Jared save us?

Eventually, the coronavirus crisis we’re currently experiencing will end. People will go back to work, restaurants will open, and the sports world will be back in business.

Isn’t it remarkable that we have a president of the United States whose leadership, competence, and honesty will allow that to happen?

Sorry about that. I couldn’t help myself. I should have warned that biting sarcasm was forthcoming. I wish I didn’t have to resort to such shenanigans, but in the current situation we find ourselves, can you blame me?

The truth is, though, we will eventually get back to normal. How long that’s going to be is anyone’s best guess. But no matter when that day comes, it’s not going to happen with the president merely proclaiming, “I’ve done the greatest job, ever. Thanks to me, the virus is now contained. Everybody, starting tomorrow…

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Snarky Snippets — Yes, Again

Good afternoon, my friends!  As you might expect, the events of the last two days – Iowa caucus, impeachment trial, State of the Union address – have my hackles raised and have left me filled with snarky angst.  And you know what that means, right?  Snarky Snippets!

The economy is … what???

Trump claims the economy is so great, but I see signs to the contrary.  One of the largest and oldest retailers, Macy’s, plans to shut down 125 stores over the next three years, 30 in this year alone.  They will also be cutting some 2,000 corporate jobs.  Hmmmm … that doesn’t sound like a sign of a booming economy to me.

Yesterday it was announced that the number of homeless students in the U.S. is at its highest number in over a decade – 1.5 million!  Most are staying with friends or other family members, but some 7% are living in abandoned buildings or cars.  It begs the question, for whom is the economy so great?

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is more to the economy than just the stock market and employment rates.

Time for her to go

The self-serving senator from Maine, Susan Collins, lost part of her vertebrae and found it impossible to stand for what is right, once again, so she plans to vote to acquit Trump on both charges today, along with all but two of the other republican boot-lickers.  But Sue had an interesting spin … she is convinced that because of the impeachment, Trump will be a better president going forward …

“I believe that the president has learned from this case.  The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.  He was impeached. And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”

Oh, sure, Sue … he’s going to stop calling people names, stop using vulgar language, start acting like a human, stop throwing away OUR money on his damn wall, start supporting humanitarian causes, and treat our allies like friends instead of like enemies.  Perhaps we should all sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya?

Susan Collins wasn’t alone in her blind stupidity, though.  Senator Joni Ernst was equally sycophantic …

“I think that he knows now that, if he is trying to do certain things — whether it’s ferreting out corruption there, in Afghanistan, whatever it is — he needs to go through the proper channels.”

Are these people really so utterly clueless, so stupid?  No, I don’t think so … I think they know full well that Trump has broken just about every law in the book in his efforts to first get and then hold the center of power that is the Oval Office.  I simply think they care more about their own future than ours.

A few had courage

Kudos to four members of Congress who skipped the campaign rally/State of the Union address last night:

  • Ayanna Pressley: “The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution. I cannot in good conscience attend tonight’s sham.”
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution. None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it. Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.”
  • Maxine Waters: “To think that I would attend the #SOTU to hear the message of an IMPEACHED president is a thought that in no way would be consistent w/ my fight and struggle against this dishonorable president. I will certainly NOT be there!”
  • Bobby Rush: “It would be painfully hypocritical of me to endure 90 minutes of unrelenting lies and all types of distortions and untruths, while at the same time watching his Republican apologists cheer. I cannot honor this man in any way.”

I’m told that several other democrats did walk out during the speech, once they realized that it was being turned into little more than a campaign rally.  What, I wonder, kept the rest of the democrats in Congress from doing the same?  I’m sure they will claim professionalism, but frankly the time has come for them to show the nation that this “president” is not legitimate, that he deserves no respect.  At least House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave him the proverbial finger when she ripped up her copy of his speech, later explaining that she couldn’t find a single page that contained truth.

A slap in the face

I do not know of another time in the history of the nation that the Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to such an undeserving person as Rush Limbaugh.  Mr. Limbaugh is a racist, a misogynist extraordinaire, a hypocrite who calls abortion “murder”, yet fully supports the death penalty.  He is a climate denier and referred to the 2017 Women’s March as “”Deranged Feminazi March”.  While not of the same caliber as Alex Jones, Limbaugh has engaged in a number of his own conspiracy theories, and his statements have an 84% “untrue” rating.  He has done not one damn thing in his entire adulthood that would qualify him for the Presidential Medal of Freedom … not one!  

And yet, during his State of the Union address, Donald Trump awarded him that honour.  Why?  No doubt because Mr. Limbaugh has been such a strong supporter of Trump’s, has defended the indefensible time and time again.  This, my friends, is a slap in the face to the people such as Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa who have received the medal for acts of bravery and humanitarianism.  In fact, this is a slap in the face to every person in this country.  The medal no longer has any meaning, any value.  It is naught but a trinket, handed out for political favours.

There will no doubt be some who tell me that I shouldn’t criticize Limbaugh, who has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, but let me make my position clear from the outset:  being ill does not suddenly erase all the evil he has perpetuated.  He is not a good man, not a kind man, not deserving of any honour, let alone the freedom medal.


This Speaks Volumes …

Last night I came across this editorial from the Editorial Board at the Orlando Sentinel.  It speaks for itself …

Orlando-Sentinel.jpgOur Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump | Editorial



JUN 18, 2019 | 5:30 AM

Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign.

We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump.

Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.

Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.

After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.

Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.

So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.

Trump’s capacity for lying isn’t the surprise here, though the frequency is.

It’s the tolerance so many Americans have for it.

There was a time when even a single lie — a phony college degree, a bogus work history — would doom a politician’s career.

Not so for Trump, who claimed in 2017 that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally (they didn’t). In 2018 he said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat (it is). And in 2019 he said windmills cause cancer (they don’t). Just last week he claimed the media fabricated unfavorable results from his campaign’s internal polling (it didn’t).

According to a Washington Post database, the president has tallied more than 10,000 lies since he took office.

Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.

Trump insults political opponents and national heroes alike with middle-school taunts. He demonstrates no capacity for empathy or remorse. He misuses his office to punish opponents, as when he recently called for a boycott of AT&T to get even with his least favorite media outlet, CNN. He tears down institutions, once airily suggesting the U.S. should try having a leader for life as China now allows. He seems incapable of learning a lesson, telling an ABC interviewer last week — just two months after Robert Mueller’s report on election interference was released — that he would accept dirt on an opponent from Russia or China.

Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.

This nation must never forget that humiliating public moment in Helsinki in 2018 when the president of the United States chose to accept Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election over the unanimous assessment of the American intelligence community.

Such a betrayal by a U.S. president would have been the unforgivable political sin in normal times.

As if that’s not enough, Trump declares his love for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, a genuine villain who starves and enslaves his people and executes his enemies with antiaircraft guns and flamethrowers.

But he wrote the president a “beautiful letter.” Flattery will get you everywhere with this president, and that’s dangerous.

Domestically, the president’s signature issue — immigration — has moved in fits and starts. Happily, he abandoned pursuing an outright — and unconstitutional — ban on Muslims entering the U.S., opting instead to restrict travel for people from a handful of nations, most of them majority Muslim.

He’s tried separating families, sending troops to the border and declaring a national emergency. For all of that, illegal border crossings are, as the president himself calls it, at crisis levels.

He blames House Democrats because casting blame is Trump’s forte. But Republicans controlled the House and the Senate for two full years. That seemed like an ideal time to fix what the president believes ails our immigration laws.

Even with Democrats now controlling the House, where is Trump’s much-touted deal-making mojo, an attribute he campaigned on?

“But the economy!”

Yes, the market has done well since Trump’s election.

The S&P 500 was up about 21% between Trump’s inauguration and May 31 of his third year in office. Under President Obama, it was up about 56% in that same period.

Unemployment is headed down, as it was during seven straight years under Obama.

Wages are up, and that’s a welcome change. But GDP increases so far are no better than some periods under Obama. Deficit spending under Obama was far too high, in part because of the stimulus needed to dig out of the Great Recession. Under Trump, it’s still headed in the wrong direction, once again pushing $1 trillion even though the economy is healthy.

Trump seems to care nothing about the deficit and the national debt, which once breathed life into the Tea Party.

Through all of this, Trump’s base remains loyal. Sadly, the truest words Trump might ever have spoken was when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his supporters.

This non-endorsement isn’t defaulting to whomever the Democrats choose. This newspaper has a history of presidential appointments favoring Republicans starting in the mid-20th century. Except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Sentinel backed Republican presidential nominees from 1952 through 2004, when we recommended John Kerry over another four years of George W. Bush.

As recently as 2012 we recommended Republican Mitt Romney because of what seemed at the time to be Obama’s failure to adequately manage the nation’s finances.

If — however unlikely — a Republican like Romney, now a senator from Utah, or former Ohio Gov. John Kasich successfully primaried the president, we would eagerly give them a look. Same if an independent candidate mounted a legitimate campaign.

We’d even consider backing Trump if, say, he found the proverbial cure for cancer or — about as likely — changed the essence of who he is (he won’t).

The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that.

We can do better. We have to do better.

The comments ran about 2-1 in agreement with the Sentinel, praising its high standards and integrity in taking this stand.  I think it speaks volumes when a newspaper that has consistently endorsed republican candidates for more than half a century refuses to endorse this republican incumbent, Donald Trump.

Filosofa’s BIG Announcement!

Okay, folks … here is my big announcement:

I’ve decided to run for President of the United States in November 2020! 

Um … don’t everybody wear your hands out applauding now … well, a little bit of applause might be nice … okay, I’ll settle for those few chuckles I heard.

Now, I can’t afford a huge campaign, and I will NOT take a single dime from any business or lobbying interest, so that puts me at a disadvantage before I even get to the gate. However, I do have a few advantages over the rest of the pack, but I’ll get to those in a minute.

First, a few of my highest priorities:

  • Environmental
    • The United States will immediately, the day after I take office, rejoin the Paris Accord
    • All regulations on the fossil fuel and auto industries that were revoked by my predecessor will immediately be re-instated
    • I will petition Congress for emergency funding to re-build the Environmental Protection Agency and will nominate a conscientious person as director of that agency
    • We will enhance our renewable energy resources and provide incentives for companies to develop new sustainable energy sources
  • Constitutional Issues
    • I will support freedom of the press to the fullest, even when I don’t like what they say about me – the free press is our only hope for remaining a free people
    • Separation of church and state will be the law. There is no place for religion in government, and this government will support no particular religion over another
    • I will petition Congress for a ban on all assault weapons, and for expanded background checks, as well as training and licensing in order to obtain any sort of firearm
  • Education
    • All funding for the Department of Education will go toward public schools where all children will be treated equally; taxpayer money will NOT be used for ‘charter’ schools that benefit only the few
    • I will propose that Congress introduce legislation to provide free college tuition for a minimum of two years to all students whose annual family income falls below $100,000
    • School curriculums will be evaluated and re-designed as necessary in order to provide students with a well-balanced education that includes both career training and a liberal arts education
    • Religion will not be taught in public schools. Parents who wish their children to obtain religious training may send their children to religious schools at their own expense
  • Health Care
    • No person in the country will be without affordable healthcare. Most will pay according to their ability to pay, without such payment placing undo hardship.  Those who cannot afford to pay will receive free healthcare
    • There will be an ad hoc committee to study prescription drug costs and appropriate caps will be put on all pharmaceuticals
  • Taxation
    • The tax brackets will be expanded for those earning over $100,000 per year. Those whose net worth is $1 million or more will fall into the highest income tax brackets, to be determined before year end
  • Economy
    • Unfettered capitalism will cease to exist. My administration will place a higher value on human life than on GDP
    • The Chairman of the Federal Reserve will decide at what point it is prudent to raise or lower interest rates without coercion from myself or others. This is not a political agency, but one based on the best interest of the nation
    • We will aim for a balanced budget, or at least reduce the deficit by 20% each year, and will not increase the national debt beyond its current levels
  • International Relations
    • We will begin re-building trust among our allies in whatever way possible
    • We will hold Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the brutal murder of our journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year by severing any arms agreements, and imposing other sanctions as seen fit
    • There will be NO wall on our border

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but merely the top bullet points of my platform.  Now, what do I bring to the table, since it damn sure isn’t money or fame?

Honesty and integrity, for starters.  I will take not a single dime from any organization that seeks special favours or sees their donation as creating an obligation.  I will not lie … if I cannot tell you something, I will simply say that I cannot discuss it, but I will not lie or over-inflate my achievements.  I will demand the same from any cabinet members that I select.

Compassion and humanity.  I will put the people of this nation … all the people … ahead of profit.  One thing this means is that I will never demean or mock another human being.  We’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime.  I will not tolerate bigotry in any form. The emphasis of this government will be people, not weapons of war, not profit for the biggest corporations, but the well-being of people.

Literacy.  Unlike my predecessor, I have studied politics and history all my life, hold a B.S. in both Accounting and Political Science, and an M.A. in International Relations.  I have read the U.S. Constitution at least 50 times in the past 30 years and have taken a number of classes in Constitutional Law.  I have studied past presidents.  And I can write more than 5 words without a spelling error.  In other words, I know the difference between ‘origins’ and ‘oranges’.

Common Sense.  I am smart enough to realize that there are many, many things I will not know, but unlike my predecessor, I am willing to seek the advice of those who do know those things.  I am also smart enough to realize that sometimes we all make mistakes, but the important thing is to admit those mistakes, then take steps to rectify the errors.  This I will do.

And that, my friends, is all I have to offer.  Now all I have to do is find a running mate who shares my values and vision.  Any takers?

A Rudderless Ship — Part III

I think I can honestly make the statement that the United States of America is adrift with no leadership.  Donald Trump is more concerned with almost anything except the myriad of troubles facing this nation and its people, and the majority in Congress are more concerned with staying on Trump’s good side, if he has one, than with serving their constituents.  Perhaps of equal concern is that a significant portion of the adult population of this nation seem content to remain bobbing in a vast sea of nothingness, just so long as Trump rants and talks ‘tough’.

We do not have a president at the helm, but instead we have an entertainer, a circus clown.  Trump’s personal lawyer (one of a cadre) is under investigation and has, it turns out, done so many shady deals that the sun may never shine in his presence.  I’m betting a good number of those deals were done on behalf of Trump.  His current doctor is an alcoholic candyman and his former doctor is a looney bird who, it turns out, let Trump write his own health report in which he said he would be the ‘healthiest president in history’.

The man who sits in the Oval Office does not understand foreign policy in the least bit, and worse yet, sees no reason to learn anything about how the U.S. does or should interact with other nations.  Instead, his foreign policy consists of one and only one goal:  to undo anything and everything that was done during the eight years of the Obama administration.  Thus, he has announced his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, leaving the U.S. the only nation on the globe that has said, “oh well” and shrugged its shoulders to the ongoing devastation caused by carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  He has destroyed important international trade agreements without even knowing what the terms are, and further, imposed damning tariffs on friends and foes alike.  He is likely to cancel the Iran deal that was making the world safer.

He is under investigation for collusion with Russia in order to buy the election, and for obstruction of justice in trying to interfere with investigations into his wrong doings.  And instead of being cooperative or showing even a modicum of concern, he acts for all the world as if he is guilty and spends his time ranting about being a ‘victim’ of a witch hunt.  Although he did not win the election honestly – that much is already proven – he is still spending time pursuing his opponent, Hillary Clinton … even after he has been in office for fifteen months!  Talk about a witch hunt!

His intent was never to govern or to lead … his intent was always to rule.  He does not insist on knowledge or intellect from his staff, but rather asks for blind loyalty and empty, inane praise.  He does not wish to hear from his advisors what he needs to hear, but rather what he wants to hear.  And thus far, most of his staff have been happy to comply.  Those who didn’t, such as James Comey and Rex Tillerson, are no longer part of his staff.  His lawyers are making a mad dash for the exits, much like rats deserting a sinking ship.

Donald Trump is tearing this nation apart.  He is making horrible decisions affecting humans, the environment and the economy … decisions that will carry a high price tag well into the future.  He has the mental capacity of a five-year-old and the linguistic skills of a teenager.

So with all that said, could somebody please tell me why his overall approval rating, as based on an aggregate of polls, keeps edging up???  What the Sam Heck are people finding to approve of?  What’s to like?  Not. One. Single. Thing. Granted, there is some skewing of the polls, for people like you and I rarely if ever respond to unsolicited phone calls, meaning that the average person polled is likely a bored housewife with nothing better to do who will say she likes Trump because he “tells it like it is”, as she read on a Facebook meme one day.

Instead of worrying about important issues both at home and abroad, he is planning a military parade whereby the armed forces will march down Pennsylvania Avenue and salute him.  Instead of trying to actually understand the complexities of the Iran deal, he is busy threatening Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over a closed case against Hillary Clinton.  Instead of taking time to study the data on climate change, he is trying to figure out a CYA plan to counter a lawsuit by a former mistress.  THIS IS NOT A PRESIDENT!

The United States was once considered a world leader, was once referred to as the land of opportunity, but in just fifteen short months we have started down a path toward being barely above a third world, underdeveloped nation.  Our leaders care not if we have health care, if we have air that is breathable or water that is drinkable.  They care not that we are so far in debt and getting in deeper every day.  They care not that racism and white supremacy are on the rise.  It is time for the people … yes you REPUBLICANS … to wake up and smell the coffee!  In the Capitol we have a majority of wimps who are too afraid of Trump and the GOP to do the right thing.  WAKE UP, Congress, and realize that Donald Trump is NOT your boss – We The People are!  If they have not stood firm and begun the process of removing Trump from office by November, they better be voted out of their own offices, else by the next election, this rudderless ship will have hit the iceberg and be on its way to the bottom of the sea.

A Rudderless Ship — Part I

A Rudderless Ship — Part II

Response To Frank Luntz About Americans Antipathy Towards The President’s SOTU Address

Most of the people of this nation were not impressed with Trump’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, and for good reason. But apparently republican pollster Frank Luntz takes umbrage and thinks we should all be fawning over Trump and he cannot understand why we aren’t. Friend Gronda has responded to Mr. Luntz, clarifying to him all the reasons that We The People are not falling for his self-aggrandizing speech. Her response is perfect. Please read this excellent post. Thank you Gronda, for I could not have said it better!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of frank luntz

Frank Luntz, s republican pollster and a former critic of the republican President Donald Trump has been doing the rounds of the TV news shows as a guest bemoaning why the American peoples were not responding more favorably to the president’s State of the Union address that he delivered on January 30, 2018. (See: Frank Luntz, former Trump hater: ‘I owe Donald Trump an apology WashingtonTimes )

This is my response….

Dear Frank Luntz and Republicans, If you have to win elections with the help of the Russians, you don’t deserve any wins in the 2018 mid term November elections. The president cannot continue to constantly lie to the American peoples, talk with racist overtones about our fellow citizens, attack the pillars of our community like the FBI and the Department of Justice with impunity. This is just for starters.

Image result for photos of frank luntz

Despite, the white House’s talking points, the Americans do…

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Tax Bill Reconciliation?

Members of Congress have been busy as little beavers, trying to bring the House and Senate versions of the ‘tax reform bills’ together into a single bill for Trump to sign.  They seem to be in such a rush that they do not have time for such things as facts and credible analyses.  They remind me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who is looking at his pocket watch, repeatedly saying, “I’m late, I’m late …”

What’s the rush?  Well, first of all, they are under pressure from Trump and from their rich donors to “get ‘er done”.  More to the point, while the budget was extended for two weeks, that is a very short time to prepare a spending bill, get the necessary votes, reconcile the House and Senate versions, and get it signed.  Look how long the tax bill is taking, after all! Thus, a government shutdown still looms.  So, I understand the rush, but … both of these bills are so terrible that neither deserve consideration, and to completely disregard the facts, to ignore every likely outcome, is destined to do far more harm to the people of this nation than it will benefit them.  Let us take a look …

Today, the Department of Treasury, under the ‘leadership’ of Trump’s handpicked Steven Mnuchin, issued its “Analysis of Growth and Revenue Estimates Based on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Tax Reform Plan”. The tax bills are filled with fallacies and fantasies that are far more appropriate for children’s storybooks than for government policies.  Let us begin with the claim by Congress that the gigantic tax cuts for the wealthy will pay for themselves.  The Treasury Department report itself debunks this myth, as have a number of independent and non-partisan groups before this.  The plan will cost an estimated $1.5 trillion in lost revenue from major corporation and wealthy taxpayers, and is only projected to generate an additional $408 billion in additional revenue from growth.  Thus, the deficit would be more than a trillion dollars to add to our already astronomical national debt.

Treasury analysisBut, that isn’ even the worst of it, for that $408 billion in additional revenue is fallacy #2.  It is based on the assumption that all those large corporations that are saving all that money will reinvest it into solvent enterprises that will a) generate corporate tax dollars, and b) employ people who will pay taxes.  In short, it is based on the fantasy of ‘trickle down’ economics, which I have written about previously, and which has been de-bunked and proven wrong so many times that it should not even enter into the equation.  The Treasury report makes an assumption, based on this marvelous falsehood about trickle down economics of a sustained 2.9% growth rate per year over the next ten years.  Ain’t gonna happen, folks.

There are certain rules for the reconciliation process, one of which is called the Byrd Rule.  The Byrd Rule requires all provisions in the bill to be funded by revenues, and they cannot increase the deficit beyond the 10-year budget window. Obviously, neither version of the current bills being considered could pass either stipulation in the Byrd Bill, nor even come close.  That, in itself, should send them scurrying back to the drawing board for something more reasonable.

Thus far, most of the republicans in Congress still support basically whatever outcome the committee reconciling the bills comes up with, but there are some who are beginning to look at the deficit numbers and have concerns.  One such Senator is Susan Collins of Maine, who says she is as yet undecided, and has laid out certain conditions that would determine her vote, including assurances that federal Medicare payments will not be cut and that Republicans will support two separate health care bills aimed at reducing premium costs.  Far too little, and she does not even mention the deficit, but if it keeps her from voting in favour of the bill, then it’s a start.

While the increase to the national debt is the most important fallacy of these abominable bills, the impact on the average citizen must also play a role.  I did some quick and dirty math earlier today and determined that my own household would be left with a deficit of some $2,500 dollars at the end of next year.  Not a huge sum, perhaps, but still … I cannot call this a tax ‘cut’ by any stretch of the imagination. It means that we will be tightening our belts and spending less money next year, contributing less to the economy.

Now, putting this all together, if the Senate finds a way around the Byrd Rule, and if Susan Collins and the rest are somehow convinced to vote ‘aye’, here is what I see happening.

  • Median earners will have less disposable income, for they will be able to claim fewer deductions, thus effectively raising their tax rate. With less disposable income, they will spend less money on non-essential goods and services.  There goes that 2.9% growth rate, folks.
  • As consumers spend less and less, and fewer people have healthcare because the individual mandate will be gone, the economy will actually begin to lose ground, rather than grow. The national debt, therefore, will increase even faster than the Treasury Department predicts.
  • As the national debt increases, as the economy takes a hit, quarter after quarter, consumer confidence will wane and people who are already struggling will slow their contributions to their 401(k) plans, further reducing economic growth and further increasing the national debt. It is at this point that I look for a hug dip in the stock market.
  • The stock market increase in the past year has been unnatural and largely without a solid foundation. It was built on consumer confidence that stemmed from the lies coming from the administration.  When/if it dips very much, look for a recession.  And then, POP goes the republican bubble.

Now, my analysis is an over-simplification, and there are far too many variables to consider in this short post.  Plus, I am not an economist.  But common sense should tell us all that one cannot build a castle on a foundation of hot air, and that is precisely what Congress is trying to do.  There is no long-range view that has been taken, the immediate goal simply being to pass a bill that benefits all the ‘right’ people, for mid-terms are coming up in less than a year and members of Congress need to get those campaign donations coming in.  Besides that, the pest in the White House keeps calling and asking where the bill is, for he is sitting at his desk, pen in hand.

Thus concludes this bedtime story that is worthy of being included in the Grimm’s Book of Fairy Tales, for it is, indeed, a grim tale.

JASTA – A Bad Idea

Sometimes there is a disconnect between the brain and the heart, and while we may feel that one thing is the proper course, the brain reminds us that it just is not so.  This post is about one such situation.

At issue is S.1535, Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), passed in the Senate yesterday and now headed to the House of Representatives as H.R.3143, that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. First, the rationale behind JASTA: 15 of the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 attacks were Saudis.  Part of the job of the 9/11 commission in 2002 was to investigate how the hijackers were able to operate without alerting U.S. intelligence agencies.  Though the commission’s report was released in 2004, some information was classified and remains so today, including 28 pages pertaining to the Saudi government’s involvement. Recently there has been a major push to declassify and release this information which could, if JASTA becomes law, result in private lawsuits filed in the U.S. courts against the government of Saudi Arabia.

Senators John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer introduced the legislation in 2013 and it enjoys bi-partisan support, though last month Senator Lindsey Graham temporarily blocked it based on concerns that it could backfire on the U.S. Their stated purpose with this bill is to send a message to all nations that they can and will pay a price if they harbor terrorists or in any way aid terrorism, and to afford justice to 9/11 victims. While many see this as a positive move, I see more harm than good that could come as a result of its passage into law.

President Obama has said he will veto the bill should it pass the House.  The ramifications of this act becoming law could be widespread and have the potential for an economic domino effect. The Saudis hold hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. assets and have indicated that they would sell up to $750 billion in U.S. Treasury securities if the law were to pass.  To do so would cause a severe blow to the U.S. economy, the Saudi economy, and would have the potential to de-stabilize the world economy.

Saudi Arabia is our ally and this legislation, if passed, would undoubtedly alienate Saudi Arabia and undermine a longstanding, albeit strained relationship with a critical U.S. ally in the Middle East. Additionally, Senator Graham’s concern is the possibility that it could open the door for foreigners to sue the U.S. government, accusing Washington of supporting terrorism.  Senator Schumer disagrees with that argument, saying “We’re not busy training people to blow up buildings and kill innocent civilians in other countries.” I mostly agree with him, but … I would not want to see that door opened, especially in light of Trump’s claim that he will bomb terrorists and kill their families which, in itself, could easily be considered an act of terrorism.

The Senate unanimously passed the S.1535 yesterday.  Senators Schumer and Cornyn are talking to leaders of both parties in the House in hopes of expediting the vote there.  Paul Ryan has expressed concerns, surprisingly, as that puts him on the same side as President Obama on this one.  If H.R.3143 passes but the president vetoes it, as he has said he will, Schumer and Cornyn believe they can muster enough votes in the Senate to override the veto.

In the end, even if this bill becomes law, it is likely to accomplish very little and potentially cause many more problems.  The idea that it will provide justice to the victims of 9/11 and their families is ludicrous.  I cannot see that anybody will derive any satisfaction from suing a foreign government for their failure to take proper counter-terrorism measures 15 years ago. The likelihood of monetary compensation is slim to none, and what good is it anyway … you cannot replace human life with cash.  As far as sending a message goes … other nations in the Middle East will simply laugh at the notion.  In short, what seemed like a good idea to the heart, does not seem like much of one to the brain.  At least that is Filosofa’s Word.